One of the things the Nashville Predators were criticized for under John Hynes was not giving the skilled youth the on-ice opportunities they deserved. Somehow, Juuso Parssinen was an exception to this rule.
The former 210th overall pick was brought up to Nashville near midway through November last year and did not look back. He was not always in the same spot each time, but the important thing was that he was never sent back to Milwaukee or even scratched, like many others have been.
Given how the Predators have been constructed for the upcoming year, it is still unclear how exactly he will be used in the lineup. Regardless, his track record from last year shows that he has an incredibly bright future in this league.
One thing is for certain; Parssinen quickly went from prospect to everyday NHL starter rather quickly.
Parssinen will be one to watch closely throughout Nashville Predators training camp as they hit the ice for Day 2 and get ready for their preseason opener on September 25, a split squad doubleheader against the Florida Panthers.
2022-23 Season Review for Juuso Parssinen
Parssinen played 45 games for the Nashville Predators in 2022-23, logging six goals and 19 assists. What kept him from playing more games than that was an injury he suffered in late February.
Just another blow to the injury-riddled Predators who were trying to make an improbable ninth-straight playoff appearance.
It sidelined Parssinen for all but the remaining three games of the season, effectively ending it prematurely. In one of those games back, however, he did score an amazing overtime winner, reminding everyone of the talent he has.
It was evident from the very first night, as Parssinen scored a goal in the very beginning and generated much hype around him. On that goal he showcased exactly what he is best at: forechecking and driving to the net front.
Parssinen plays a very imposing style of hockey, which is encouraging for a guy that young and that inexperienced. He is aggressive and effective in the dirty areas, a factor in the physical game, and far from a slouch on defense.
For someone who had played only 19 games of the North American game before joining the Predators, he was particularly beyond his years as a rookie. He truly earned the privilege of playing night in and night out when he was healthy, and his performance in meaningless games after the injury further indicated that he is no joke.
Season Outlook for 2023-24: A Center or a Winger?
Coming into this season, Parssinen figures to be somewhere on the second or third line. I have him on the third line alongside Tommy Novak and Denis Gurianov, which should complement his ability to forecheck and ability to do work around the net.
But where does Parssinen ultimately slot is a huge question, mainly because he likely will get screwed out of a center spot. It is super tough because he deserves it, but between him, Novak, and Cody Glass, he is the only one who has any slight experience of playing on the wing for the Predators.
It would be a bit of a bummer for Parssinen, but the good news is that he played on the wing in those final three regular season games, and played well. And just in general, it is much easier to change from center to wing than wing to center, so it should not actually be a huge issue.
No matter where exactly he slots, it is fair to expect him to have about equal opportunity to most of the impressive youngsters on the Predators. It could take awhile for Andrew Brunette to figure out exactly where and how to use him, but once he does, expect good things.
Parssinen was decently productive in his first year in which former Head Coach John Hynes frequently flipped him from line to line, so him getting comfortable in his second year should only make him better. A 45 to 55 point season from Parssinen is not an unreasonable expectation.
Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses for Parssinen
Above all, the biggest thing to rave about regarding Parssinen’s game is his confidence. So many inexperienced guys like him would not be brave or even able enough to outwork and out-physical long-time NHL veterans in the rough areas, but he does it like a seasoned pro.
You would never have any idea that Parssinen has less than a full year’s worth of experience in the AHL or better. No matter what, Parssinen is going to go out there every night fearless, and that goes a long way to building a successful NHL career.
Besides lack of experience, lack of certainty in the lineup, or things he cannot control, one of Parssinen’s weaknesses from the prior season was his goal scoring. He was on pace for about 45 points, but only 10 of them would have been goals, which is not a lot.
For someone who spends as much time at and near the net as Parssinen does, you would hope that he would score more goals as a result. But at this point, that seems to be more of a developmental opportunity than an actual deficiency.
Nashville Predators fans should expect that to improve gradually over time, and once he can combine that with his distributing ability, he might become dangerous. There is nothing that Parssinen is struggling with now that he cannot build on, so hopes should be high for the former seventh round draft steal.